Aberdeen-based Well-Safe Solutions has been awarded a multi-million-pound contract from Repsol Sinopec Resources for the decommissioning of 14 subsea wells in Hannay and Buchan fields off the UK.

Repsol Sinopec filed its draft decommissioning plans for the Buchan and Hannay fields located in the UK North Sea to the UK authorities in March last year. Both fields produced via the Buchan Alpha floating production unit (FPU) but were isolated in 2017, when the FPU was removed from the station.

After 36 years and almost 150mm barrels of oil produced, the Buchan Alpha platform ceased production in 2017. The off-station and onshore recycling of the Buchan Alpha platform was completed at Dales Voe in Lerwick Shetland. The final stages of the Buchan Alpha decommissioning project were completed in January 2021 by a metal recycling specialist, John Lawrie Decom.

The decommissioning and recycling of the subsea infrastructure for Hannay and Buchan fields, which started with pre-works in 2019, is still ongoing, while its finalisation is expected by 4Q 2021.

The new contract with Well-Safe is considered to be the first fully-inclusive well decommissioning contract of its kind, according to Repsol Sinopec.

“Collaboration has been key to achieving a solution that enables innovation and maximises efficient use of resources, whilst minimising the carbon footprint of the project. The agreement will exceed the UK local content target as set in the North Sea Transition deal, of over 50% for decommissioning projects,” commented José Luis Muñoz, Repsol Sinopec’s Chief Executive Office.

It will ensure the two companies will be able to manage knowledge, cost and efficiencies and provide schedule control, so that Well-Safe can implement its Plug & Abandon (P&A) Club approach in a campaign-based style, in accordance with the OGA Decommissioning Strategy.

Luis Batalla, Repsol Sinopec’s Head of Decommissioning, said: “The work to be delivered by Well-Safe Solutions aligns with our decommissioning strategy, which is focused on efficiency, performance management, innovative contracting models, technology development and fit for purpose design. All project delivery will be coordinated and managed by Well-Safe Solutions in accordance with the contract; with Repsol Sinopec retaining oversight of the technical delivery of the project as the well operator”.

Due to a mindset shift, the conventional transactional approach has been changed to a commercial, outcome-oriented model, which is expected to empower the supply chain. This will lead to the most innovative and efficient solution with a fair shared risk-management philosophy within the contract, according to Repsol Sinopec.

The contract has been described as a strong example of innovation, collaboration and campaigning by OGUK and The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA).

Katy Heidenreich, OGUK’s supply chain and operations director stated: “This bold approach, together with a multi-year well campaign, shows how companies committed to OGUK’s Supply Chain Principles are driving a step-change in commercial behaviour that unlocks the full potential of the supply chain and improves performance, eliminates unnecessary cost and adds value whilst boosting competitiveness.”

The Well-Safe Guardian, designed for decommissioning of subsea wells will be used for the offshore well decommissioning activities scheduled to start in 2022. The Well-Safe’s Dive System and Subsea Modular Decommissioning Riser Technology (SMART) system will be deployed for the first time onboard the semi-submersible unit.

Pauline Innes, Head of Decommissioning at the Oil and Gas Authority, said: “In our new decommissioning strategy, we pressed the case for the cultivation of a more collaborative culture, including the development of new procurement models, and the adoption of well decommissioning campaigns. 

“We will continue to encourage companies to agree on sizable campaigns which drive greater efficiencies both in terms of cost and CO2 reduction and give the supply chain confidence to invest in new technologies – to the benefit of industry, the Treasury and the environment”.

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